Thursday, 31 January 2013

Photos, your Good Side

So, spent time in the past going through your photos, wondering which one to put on your social media profile, which one to put on your CV or which wedding portrait to hang on the wall? Choosing is not easy, but here is something that may help.
Your best photo or portrait may be the one showing your left cheek, according to a study by Kelsey Blackburn and James Schirillo from Wake Forest University in the US. Their work shows that images of the left side of the face are perceived and rated as more pleasant than pictures of the right side of the face, possibly due to the fact that we present a greater intensity of emotion on the left side of our face.
We are always judging human emotions using facial expressions. Our highly specialised facial muscles are capable of expressing many unique emotions. A quick glance can tell if someone is happy or sad. Good actors have a range of facial expressions for almost every emotion.
Research suggests that the left side of the face is more intense and active during emotional expression. It is also striking that Western artists' portraits predominantly present subjects' left profile. The Blackburn and Schirillo study investigated whether there are differences in the perception of the left and right sides of the face in real-life photographs of individuals. They go on to explain: "Our results suggest that posers' left cheeks tend to exhibit a greater intensity of emotion, which observers find more aesthetically pleasing. Our findings provide support for a number of concepts – the notions of lateralized emotion and right hemispheric dominance with the right side of the brain controlling the left side of the face during emotional expression."
Participants were asked to rate the pleasantness of both sides of male and female faces on gray-scale photographs. They found a strong preference for left-sided portraits, regardless of whether the pictures were originally taken of the left side, or mirror-reversed. The left side of the face was rated as more aesthetically pleasing for both male and female posers.
So if you are picking a photo for your on-line profile, or using a picture of a staff member in a poster, or using models to advertise clothes or a beauty product, keep to the left sided photos. It is your good side.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Why we eat pizza when working late

Ever been in work pulling a late night, trying to get a presentation or tender together and ended up ordering in pizza or munching away on junk food? It turns out we could be hardwired to go for the junk food option when we are tried or sleep deprived.
CBS News report on reseach from Columbia University's Institute of Human Nutrition which explains why eating sweets and chips looks like a better idea for people who haven't had a lot of sleep.
In the study, people who looked at pictures of unhealthy snack food had more brain activity in the reward centers of their brain when they had reduced sleep compared to those who were able to get a full night's sleep.
"The same brain regions activated when unhealthy foods were presented were not involved when we presented healthy foods," says study author Dr. Marie-Pierre St-Onge, an assistant professor at Columbia University. "The unhealthy food response was a neuronal pattern specific to restricted sleep. This may suggest greater propensity to succumb to unhealthy foods when one is sleep restricted."
In the study, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) were performed on 25 men and women of normal weight. The scans were taken after five days of either sleep restriction (subjects were only allowed to sleep four hours a night), or normal sleep (up to nine hours a night).
While in the scanner, the subjects looked at photos of healthy food, like fruits, vegetables and cereal, and unhealthy food, such as sweets or pepperoni pizza and then non-food items, like office stationary.
Sleep-deprived subjects showed activity in the reward centers of their brains when they saw pictures of unhealthy food. When people were allowed a full night's rest, there was no activation in the rewards center.
So if you run a fast food outlet, a convenience store, or a petrol station near where people come off night shift, advertise a few glossy pictures of your snack options. Business might pick up. If you want to stay healthy, then be extra conscious of what you order when working late or what you take from the fridge after you get home from a long drive.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Stress is not part of the Plan

The best way to handle stress- Plan Your Day, don’t let stuff 'just happen'. A recent survey by psychologist and self-help author Robert Epstein (reported in Time) found that 25% of our happiness hinges on how well we’re able to manage stress.
Epstein found that planning was one of the most effective stress management techniques. As he put it, “fighting stress before it even starts, planning things rather than letting them happen”. And it’s not just short term planning, he goes on to explain “That means planning your day, your year and your life so that stress is minimized.”
So the moral of the story is don't be a victim of circumstance and let stuff just happen to you., If it does you will end up with a few conflicting tasks, have to make reactionary choices,  get stressed and make mistakes, get even more stressed and before you know it its stress everywhere you look.
Epstein points to his former professor, the late Harvard behaviorist B.F. Skinner (famous for the effects of reinforcement on behavior.), as a master organizer  “Skinner was amazing at managing stress” Epstein recalls, “He was quite a planner. Not only did he plan his day every day, but he had a 10-year planner”.
So reflect on time when you were stressed, how much forward planning had you done beforehand? Perhaps if you make out a plan for the coming week, you will hopefully have fewer unknown events impacting on your day and life may run a little more smoothly. Stress will be down and all going well, happiness will be up. That is plan anyway.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

How Popular is your new phone?

Ever bought a new car or got a new phone and suddenly noticed loads of other people did too. Everywhere you go you see the same car or phone being used by someone else.
Psychologists call this the Observational Selection Bias. It occurs when we suddenly start noticing things we didn't notice that much before and then wrongly assume that the frequency has increased i.e. that these cars or phones are more popular or selling better than they really are.
Pregnant women often report seeing a lot more pregnant women around them, though statistically the number of pregnant women won't have changed much.
Once we select an item in our mind, for whatever reason, we start noticing it more often.
This is pretty harmless, except that we believe the increased frequency of the item is true. We can then wrongly assume that one type of car is out selling another or one type of phone is now the market leader, when neither is the case.
So next time you get something new and start to think loads of other people have made the same purchase as you, think again. That latest phone you got may not be as popular as you think.
As an aside, I wonder if that played a role in people buying shares in Apple? If I had an iPhone I might start to notice more iPhones than HTC or Samsung and assume iPhone sales are holding up better than they actually are

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Previous Events - basis for decisions?

We all have biases or glitches in our thinking. One of these is the ‘Gamblers Fallacy’ where we attach too much significance to previous events, believing that they'll somehow influence future outcomes. The classic example is coin-tossing. After getting heads, say, five consecutive times, our inclination is to predict an increase in likelihood that the next coin toss will be tails. We think the odds must certainly be in the favour of heads. In reality, the odds are still 50/50, each flip of the coin is an independent event.
This feeds into how we behave in a number of ways. If you are selling something and it’s not working out, always getting knocked back, you might feel that your luck has to eventually change and that you are due a break. The ‘it has to change’ type of feeling. Then there is the ‘Hot Hand’ idea where a person who has experienced success has a greater chance of more success in future attempts.
The next time you are trying to predict change, think a little deeper if you find yourself basing your predictions on past events. Think a bit more about the factors that influence change and only include what’s relevant (it doesn’t matter that the last five flips were heads)

Sunday, 13 January 2013

What colour is your company?

Colour is all around us. It is one of the first things we notice about most things we see and it can be combined in ways to please, disgust and fascinate us. It is also heavily used by organisations to get themselves noticed and create the ‘right’ impression. Market researchers have had a field day identifying the colours and the likely effect they have upon us.

Have you noticed that most fast food restaurants are decorated with bright reds and oranges (Mc Donalds, Pizza Hut, Burger King, KFC)? It's no accident that these colours show up so frequently. Marketing companies long maintain that reds and oranges encourage diners to eat quickly and leave, and that's exactly what fast food outlets want you to do. The idea is that warm colours stimulate the desire to eat and you don't linger for too long.

Fifty Shades of Grey aside, it's also no accident that you see a lot of reds and blacks in how adult material is advertised or packaged. These colours are thought to have sexual connotations. These colour schemes are also used in lingerie, adult shop branding and appear on many greeting cards (check out the Valentines ranges).

However, the effects of colour differ among different cultures, so the attitudes and preferences vary. For example, white is the colour of death in Chinese culture, but purple represents death in Brazil. Yellow is sacred to the Chinese, but signifies sadness in Greece and jealousy in France. In North America, green is typically associated with jealousy. People from tropical countries respond most favourably to warm colours; people from northern climates prefer the cooler colours. You will have seen some of this in HSBC ads where they claim to ‘think global but act local’. If you are designing a web site to attract Chinese tourists, less of the white and more of the yellow it seems.

Market researchers have also determined that colour affects shopping habits. You can see this by looking at the promotional material and web sites belonging to companies with marketing budgets that allow for extensive research into what sells best. Have a look at the websites of Jaguar, Gucci, Rolex. There's a common predominance of black or dark green (sophistication) and silver/dark grey (prestige). These companies market to people with high incomes who view themselves as sophisticated and look for a prestigious vehicle or accessory. You will notice this black / silver combination on newspaper ads for expensive high status luxuries such as jewellery and accessories. The more up market credit cards aimed at a similar market segment are also black or silver/grey.

Leslie Harrington, from The Colour Association marketing company suggests color is not an artistic choice or preference, but a grounded business decision.  Harrington points out the following example. When Volkswagen came out with the new Beetle some years ago, most of the billboards pictured a neon green Beetle, which was a car color few people had seen before. However, that color was authentic to the ideas VW was trying to communicate: a new and fresh take on an old concept. "It really resonated with the customer," she says. "It allowed VW to communicate in the ad what they were all about, even though most customers bought the usual blue or red."

This example also demonstrates another element of color psychology, called the "pink purse syndrome," basically, you put a pink purse in the window to get customers to come into the shop where they buy the black one.

Take another area many of us are familiar with, Social Media. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn all use different shades of blue in their logos. Scientists at the University of British Columbia led by Ravi Mehta have found that the colour blue makes us feel more creative and receptive to ideas. One scientist remarked that blue “encourages motivation” and that people think of more creative solutions to problems. Blue was associated with intellect and trustworthiness, making it an ideal colour for innovative communication.

Take a second look and you will notice these colour schemes all around you, for those among us who are colour blind, that’s another story. Marketing and psychology guys are still working on that. It’s a grey area.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Assumptions at Work

Much of our recent national and economic history can be traced back to not challenging assumptions. The assumption that house prices would keep on rising, endless access to cheap credit, that we would always earn more and more, that our banks and planners were well regulated. However don’t feel too bad about that, clinging to assumptions is part of human nature. The following is based on an article by Michael Michalko where he explains how assumptions work.
To understand how powerful and subtle assumptions can be, try doing this exercise in your head. Add up the following numbers as quickly as you can. Take 1000 and add 40 to it. Now add another 1000. Now add 30. Add another 1000. Now add 20. Now add another 1000. Now add 10. What is the total?
Our confidence in our ability to add according to the way we were taught in base ten at school encourages us to process the information in a certain way and assume an answer. If your total is 5,000, then you are wrong. 96% of people who add these simple numbers get the wrong answer. The numbers are arranged in such a way to set people up to get the wrong answer when adding using base ten. The correct answer is 4,100.Human nature is such that when we assume we know how to do something, we perform the act without much thought about the assumptions we make.
You have probably seen it in work or at home in household chores where people have particular ways of doing things. Once we think we know how something should be done, we keep doing it, then we teach others to do it the same way, and they in turn teach others until eventually you reach a point where no one remembers why something is done a certain way but we keep doing it anyway. We tend to accept whatever explanation someone with experience tells us. They have done it for years and so know best.
If you work in a job where mentoring is part of induction or continuous training ask yourself ‘why’ every now and again and see if you know the answer. Unfortunately we don’t ask that all important ‘why’ often enough and slip into the habit of not challenging assumptions.
This is well demonstrated in an experiment psychologists performed some years ago. It began with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, they hung a banana on a string with a set of stairs placed under it. Before long, a monkey went to the stairs and started to climb towards the banana. As soon as he started up the stairs, the psychologists sprayed all of the other monkeys with ice cold water. After a while, another monkey made an attempt to obtain the banana.  As soon as his foot touched the stairs, all of the other monkeys were sprayed with ice cold water. Bit of conditioned learning kicked in here. It's wasn't long before all of the other monkeys would physically prevent any monkey from climbing the stairs.
Now, the psychologists shut off the cold water, removed one monkey from the cage and replaced it with a new one. The new monkey saw the banana and started to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attacked him.  After another attempt and attack, he discovered that if he tried to climb the stairs, he would be assaulted. Next they removed another of the original five monkeys and replaced it with a new one. The newcomer went to the stairs and was attacked. The previous newcomer took part in the punishment with great gusto. In turn, they replaced a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth. Every time the newest monkey tried to climb the stairs, he was attacked.
The monkeys had no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they were beating any monkey that tried. After replacing all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys had ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approached the stairs to try for the banana. Why not? Because as far as they know that's the way it's always been around here. 
We do the same in the workplace. How many times have you heard "It has always been done this way” or “Don't mess with what works." Instead of challenging these assumptions, many of us, like the monkeys, simply keep reproducing what has been done before. It's the easiest thing to do. Just like adding using base ten.
This also sheds some light on why change is sometimes very difficult, we are making assumptions even when we don’t realise it and breaking that cycle of behavior is difficult both personally and at a social / corporate level. It may even explain why for years we assumed the church, politicians were to be trusted, ‘sure we’ve always trusted them’. Next time you notice yourself making an assumption, do yourself a favor and challenge it. Don’t be a monkey, your reward could be that dangling banana everyone else said you couldn’t have.

Not enough Dirty Money around?

In the current financial crisis being experienced in several countries, a key objective is to stimulate domestic demand. To get people spending.

In the US we have quantitative easing  and other countries have various minimum lending targets in recapitalised banks for mortgages and small business. The idea is that finance 'trickles down' to the consumer. Saving rates in many cases are too high and people are keeping their wallets closed. Economic growth is suffering.

Research published in the  Journal of Consumer Research by Professors Fabrizio Di Muro and Theodore Noseworthy may have put forward an idea that can help the situation .They found we spend old or filthy bank-notes more freely than freshly-minted ones with dirty and clean bank-notes resulting in feelings of disgust and pride in equal measure.

They said: "The physical appearance of money can alter spending behaviour. Consumers tend to infer that worn bills are used and contaminated, whereas crisp bills give them a sense of pride in owning bills that can be spent around others."

We don't like the idea of touching something loads of other people have already handled. Deep down, if we get a crumpled worn bank note, we want to get rid of it.

In a number of studies, people were given either crisp or worn notes and were asked to do a few shopping trips. They tended to spend more with worn notes than with crisp new notes. They were also more likely to break a worn larger note than pay the exact amount in crisp lower denominations. We hold onto the nice looking change.

If they wanted to impress someone, they spent the new crisp notes. This shows a more personal relationship with money than its economic value.

So if you want to get people spending on the proverbial high street, give them back their change in worn notes and put the crisp ones to one side. If your kids ask you for money this weekend to go to the cinema, give them nice new notes. It will go a little further and they'll like it more.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

It's not as bad as you think

Part of the human experience is to find ourselves in embarrassing situations. We have all been there. In the pub we have knocked over a drink, had the odd wardrobe malfunction, or made an embarrassing mumble when giving a speech or presentation. You wish the ground would sallow you up. However, it may not be that bad, research now suggests that we generally overestimate the extent to which our actions or appearance are noticed by others. This phenomenon has even been given a name, The Spotlight Effect.

It was Professor Thomas Gilovich, at Cornell University who gave the spotlight effect its name and did some of the early research in this area. In one study he had participants put on a t-shirt showing a large picture of Barry Manilow’s face, (deliberately embarrassing) and then briefly go into a room filled with students. After each participant left the room, he or she was asked to estimate how many people in the room would be able to remember who was on their t-shirt. The students in the room were also asked if they could remember who had been on the t-shirt.

Participants completely overestimated how many people would remember they wore an embarrassing Barry Manilow t-shirt. Gilovich followed this up with a further study to see if the spotlight effect extended not just to people’s appearances, but also their actions. He put people into groups to discuss inner city problems. At the end of the discussion each person estimated how the other members of the group would rate their contribution and the performance of other group members. In most cases people overestimated how much attention had been paid to them when they were speaking.

According to Gilovich this happens because we are completely focused on ourselves, what we are doing and how we look. We have trouble appreciating that other people might not be that interested in us. Ever had an embarrassing post or picture put up on Facebook but never got the ridicule you initially expected? We focus on our own profile way more than others do.

Gilovich found evidence for this self-consciousness or self-focus when he ran the Barry Manilow t-shirt study a second time. On this occasion half the participants waited for 15 minutes before they completed their estimations. By delaying the estimation process, the experimenters gave the participants time to get used to wearing their shirts. Once the participants got used to their shirts, and became less self-conscious about their fashion infringement, they were no longer as aware of Manilow’s face, and neither did they assume that everyone else would notice it.

You have probably seen this yourself where the day after an embarrassing haircut or black eye, we are sure the whole world is pointing and laughing, but a few days later when we have got used to the face in the mirror, we think everyone else has too, even though many of the people we meet are seeing if for the first time.

The next time you make that mistake in public, don’t feel you have to blush and hide. You are probably the only person who was really paying attention to your calamity. But this is a two way street. For the same reason we also have to understand that when we make a witty remark or wear what we think is a cool or clever t-shirt, we may not get the attention or compliments we think we deserve. People aren’t paying as close attention to our appearance and actions as we are. Like us, they are too busy paying attention to themselves.

Being aware of this Spotlight Effect is important. Hanging on to or continuing to focus on your embarrassing mistakes can impact on your self esteem and how you think of yourself generally. The best response is to smile, even if it comes out as that weird smile of embarrassment and admit that it was a cringe worthy experience. Then let it go because people who display embarrassment at their social transgressions are also the most prone to be liked. We like honesty.

The take-home message is perhaps this. When you find yourself mortified, be aware that other people simply don't pay as much attention to you as you think they do. Your slip up will not loiter long in the memory and that peculiar stain on your shirt or character won’t be the hot topic in the canteen. Your legend will not be secured on the basis of one particularly brilliant or embarrassing remark. It is not that you won’t be noticed, just that people do not brood over your actions you as deeply as you do. In other words, while you're stuck on your current problem or predicament, everyone else has already moved on. Shine the spotlight somewhere else, it will make you feel better about yourself.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

What if you don't want to Manage?

Are you good at your job? Have you worked hard to get the expertise and experience that makes you an effective professional?

What's next? For many of us, just as we spend years building a career skills set, hopefully doing something we like, we end up getting that promotion to manager or team leader. We get separated from our peers, the job we like and put into a management environment we may not enjoy or really want.

I've seen this several times in software development where once you get 10 years experience, you are in danger of being drafted into management, there is no career path or pay scale other than that.

Many programmers don't ever want to be managers, they want to keep learning new technologies, languages, devices and professionally develop. Its why they do the job, not to be the boss. Ironically if you work your way up in one organisation, you may have to leave to avoid the management/team lead promotion net. You go to another company, start a few steps back (in effect applying for a demotion), but still doing the job you like.

This is not unusual or limited to any one job type, in an interesting article Anne Kreamer, former Executive Vice President, Worldwide Creative Director, for Nickelodeon discusses this phenomenon and her own experiences.

She cites research conducted by Office Team which found that 76% of employees did not want their boss's job. If employees are no longer driven by the old incentives (work hard and you could be the boss), it's time for companies to figure out new ways of rewarding and keeping talented workers.

Perhaps you can flag in your reviews that you want a career path that does not involve leaving your skills behind and becoming a manager. Maybe there is a halfway house where you could mentor junior staff  or projects, be responsible for their development, using that experience but still developing your own skills and doing a job you like. This type of innovative structure may tempt skilled staff to stay.

This is not all about protecting reluctant employees from being defaulted into management. Organisations that promote people into roles they really don't want but got landed with anyway, are probably not getting the best motivated people in key positions. We then get the worst of both worlds, we lose skilled happy people and also get weak management.

That is not any good for anyone.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

PowerPoints Powerful Enemy

We have all had our run ins with PowerPoint, either been asked to put a presentation together at the last minute or had to sit through a relentless set of coma inducing slides presented by someone else.

If you have an aversion to PowerPoint, turns out you are in good, or rather strong company.

US Marine General James N. Mattis declared that “PowerPoint makes us stupid” at a military conference in North Carolina in April 2010. A subsequent New York Times article (worth a read) went into more detail on how that particular presentation method was embedded in the US military.

The then head of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley A. McChrystal, went so far as to suggest that PowerPoint  had become the U.S. Army’s principal enemy, and they have a few enemies. It was felt that such was its confusing and ineffective display of important information, serious errors could result.

The nature of PowerPoint layout led to condensing  of evidence and clarifications, a singular hierarchical explanation structure and a tendency to spend too much effort on logos and branding.

The next time you are doing your best to figure out a ream of slides or trying to avoid nodding off, think it could be worse, you could be in Kabul. On a more serious point, maybe it is time to think of other ways of doing presentations, if nothing else, just to be different and perhaps a little bit more effective

Waiters, JR & Quiz Questions shows us how memory works

If ever wonder why bar staff, waiters and other busy front line staff can remember multiple orders? Practice, probably plays a part but there could also be another phenomenon at work , the Zeigarnik Effect.

It is named after Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik. One day back in the 1930's Zeigarnik was in a busy cafe and noticed that the waiters had great memories for orders. Interestingly though, Zeigarnik noticed that the memory lasted only up until the orders had been delivered.

Once the food and drink had hit the table they forgot about it instantly, and were unable to recall what had been so clear moments before. Zeigarniks name is thus associated with the various problems where incomplete tasks stick in memory.

So how does this matter at work? Well perhaps if your work process requires someone to recall information after a task has finished, the results may not be very good, this could have implications for handovers between staff at shift change. Finished tasks may not be discussed or recalled very well compared to those still underway.

It could also have a role in sales. The Zeigarnik Effect is part of the reason why quiz shows are so compelling. Most of the time you won't care who won the World Cup 3rd place play off in 1986, but once someone has asked the question it becomes really irritating not to know the answer. Perhaps we could promote offers based on customers answering a set of questions on an app or a website.

People also better remember tasks they have been interrupted on but not finished. So if you want your sales material to be recalled, have it ask a difficult question or have an interruption to the story. We see this all the time in the final episode of most TV series where we are left wondering what’s going to happen. Once we get the answer we move on and forget. Many of us remember spending a summer wondering who shot JR (and years later Mr Burns in the Simpsons), most of us don't know the answer today.

I'll deliberately not tell you who won the 3rd place play off or who shot JR or Mr Burns but deep down bet you wish I did and maybe you will look it up yourself.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Beware of the "Quiet Fixers"

Does your company have a culture of "Quiet Fixers"? This when a problem arises, someone notices, applies some fix or correction and moves on with minimal disruption to anything else.

It does not sound too bad until you think about it for a minute. Mistakes often have side affects that cause another problem else where, or the fix might not be addressing the root problem. The Quiet Fixer could be just sowing the seeds for future reoccurance of the same mistake or a worse one somewhere else.

In a Harvard Business Review interview, former Toyota chairman Katsuaki Watanabe stated, "Hidden problems are the ones that become serious threats eventually. If problems are revealed for everyone to see, I will feel reassured. Because once problems have been visualized, even if our people didn't notice them earlier, they will rack their brains to find solutions to them."

In Toyota, if a problem is noticed, production on the line stops, the entire team comes together to identify the root cause of the problem, to ensure that it does not happen again. This can be noisy and a little heated, but it leads to better quality and productivity in the long term.

I have seen Quiet Fixers in most places I have worked, particularly in software development where a bug is fixed and verified, but the root cause of why a bug was developed in the first place in not addressed. This was often poor business analysis, project management, choice of technologies, almost always nothing to do with the guys writing the actual code. Invariably the problem raised its head again and again in many different projects.

Quiet Fixers can also inhibit learning as we don't get the chance to know about parts of the organisation or process that we are not directly involved in. By going after the root cause of a problem, you will find out things about how you work that will surprise you and hopefully allow you to plug any process or communication gaps that inevitably exist.

So beware of the Quiet Fixers and try to develop a culture of Loud Fixers. It might seem a little disruptive or awkward at the outset, but it can lend itself to better quality, improved learning and more stable productivity in the long term.

Give yourself a Confidence Boost

You are in a meeting, it may not be going well, you are under pressure and your confidence in yourself or your point of view is starting to dip.

What can you do to improve the situation? Well first thing you could address is a timely boost to your confidence.

In Sian Beilocks book 'Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To' it seems that reminding yourself of your credentials can remind you how talented you are and give a confidence boost.

This can also include thinking about any aspect of yourself that helped to make you successful, be that how hard you have worked, an academic qualification or otherwise.

On the inside of your diary or work journal, have a mini bio of your talents and success. Before you decide to fight your corner in that tough meeting, glance down at your bio and you will do so with a little more confidence.

We all have enough difficult meetings where our confidence can dip or even be deliberately undermined.Try this out and see how you get on

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

What to wear

Ever wonder about the point of having a uniform in the work place? With more fluid ways of mobile working, working from home etc, there is scope to remove some of the formality traditionally associated with the work place.

Be careful however if you are thinking about ditching the uniform or if you spend the day in your dressing gown when working from home. A study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, suggests that the clothes we wear affect how we think about ourselves when working and also how others perceive us.

For example,  wearing a white coat if you are a doctor can make you more focused, if you work in law enforcement, a uniform can make you more feel more in control. Women who wear more masculine dress suits to interviews are more likely to be hired. We think differently about people who are dressed conservatively (reliable, predictable) to those that dress a little more daring (individualistic, radical).

This is not news, even as children we assumed roles when we put on uniforms or dressed up, but it is worth bearing in mind the next time you decide what to wear going to work or if you are thinking about cutting back on the corporate uniforms or dress codes, just to save on costs or employee allowances.